Flu season is here and flu vaccines are more readily available than ever before. You can obtain a flu shot at the grocery store, every corner drug store, community centers and certainly at your pediatrician’s office.
Although it is incredibly easy for children to get a flu vaccine, statistics indicate it isn’t given often enough. Each year in the United States, 20,000 children under the age of 6 are hospitalized with the flu. Last year, more than 100 babies under the age of two died from flu-related complications.
With numbers like these, we need to protect our children and the flu vaccine is the best way to do that. If your baby is 6 months or older, he or she should get an annual flu vaccine. Here are 6 reasons why the flu vaccine is a smart choice.
IT’S SAFE. The flu vaccine is reformulated every year, based on the type of viruses scientists predict will be the most common for the upcoming season. The vaccine will not give your baby the flu. Babies with an allergy to eggs (which provide an ingredient used to help preserve some types of vaccines) should still get a flu shot. We now have solid research showing the vaccine is safe for these babies.
IT’S EFFECTIVE. Although the vaccine may not always match the flu viruses circulating in the community, the vaccine can still strengthen your baby’s immune system. When children are vaccinated, it reduces their risk of going to the intensive care unit by almost 75%. If you have a baby 24 months or older, he or she may be eligible for a no-needle nasal spray version of the vaccine. Your baby will need two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected and your doctor will track this for you.
IT CAN SAVE YOUR BABY’S LIFE. A baby’s tiny lungs and immature immune system are especially vulnerable to influenza. For a baby with a chronic condition, like allergies, asthma or diabetes, the flu can result in hospitalization with life-threatening complications.
IT CAN SAVE OTHER LIVES. The more people vaccinated, the less likely the flu can spread in day care centers, households and communities. By vaccinating your family, you are protecting them as well as those around you.
IF YOUR BABY IS UNDER SIX MONTHS OLD, the best thing you can do is keep him or her away from people who are sick. In addition to vaccination, hand washing is an essential line of defense against spreading colds, the flu and other illnesses.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that your baby get vaccinated during October, but vaccinating as late as January still offers protection.
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